There’s a lot of discussion and hype on the market right now about the Internet of Things . . . and for good reason. If projections are correct, by 2020 over 30 billion objects will wirelessly be connected to the internet. If you stop and think about it for a minute, the implications of this are quite staggering. Imagine the situation in IT just a few short years ago when mobile enterprise infrastructures were fairly straightforward – Blackberry devices were it! But in recent years we’ve seen the consumerization of IT and the rollout of BYOD across enterprises the world over, providing ways for employees to manage, share, and communicate their work on personal devices.
But that was 4 years ago. The playing field has changed dramatically; we’re not just talking a few devices anymore! Rather, as mentioned above, we’re looking at the onset of potentially billions of internet-connected objects, each with a unique IP address. In what follows, we explore some of the top ways in which Internet of Things will exert impacts on IT shops in the years and decades ahead. What will you do about this trend as a business leader/owner? How will you be prepared to meet these challenges? The first step is to recognize what the challenges are in the first place.
1. Unified Endpoint Management
IT shops will need to get comfortable with a new framework for device management that focuses on support for wearables and IoT connected devices. The emerging keyword in this arena is called ‘endpoint’. The paradigm, in fact, is shifting away from mobile device management (MDM) to one called Unified Endpoint Management (UEM). Businesses must begin to strategize on how to move beyond mobile device management to an operations model that supports the integration of objects into one holistic management framework.
2. New business models & services
Some experts suggest that the new IoT era will introduce a fundamental new business model away from the traditional focus on hardware to services on top of that hardware. One insider puts it this way: “In the IoT era, new models such as subscriptions, freemiums and bundles are rapidly becoming the preferred choice over traditional hardware options. Services are easily upgradeable, much more amenable to ecosystems that are constructed around hardware, and provide multiple revenue opportunities rather than a one-time sale.” The onus of supporting the infrastructure of the new Internet of Things economy will fall on IT shops who can aptly scale up their services to provide real-time monitoring of all the millions of new ‘endpoints’ going online.
3. Ubiquitous computing
The whole notion of Internet of Things relies on the value of connecting physical objects to the internet in a way that can be tracked, measured, and controlled remotely to provide greater value to the end-user. But current trends indicate that the Internet will not just pertain to random “things” but will literally be ubiquitous, or what some are calling the “Internet of Everything.” In a world where literally everything is connected, IT organizations will have to face the challenges of adaptability, scalability, maintenance, and updates on all these endpoints.
4. Replacement of legacy systems
Businesses, especially those in financial services and banking, have been using mainframe systems for decades because they’re reliable, secure, and cost-efficient. Up until now, digitizing your IT infrastructure has been important, but not absolutely critical. Internet of Things will make the final difference though in the calculus of legacy vs. digital. One source makes this clear as follows: “When the IoT wave kicks into high gear, companies that lack the technology to take advantage of a total Internet takeover will be left in the dust.”
5. Increase in security awareness
There are enormous security issues that arise with the Internet of Things. In the words of one industry expert, “The IoT inherently creates billions of insecure new endpoints . . . .These IP-addressable devices will create new vectors of attack designed to either compromise the device or gain access to the enterprise network.” IT organizations will be stretched in their ability to deal with the multitude of entry points that create vulnerabilities for online attacks. These new digital era of Internet of Things will require a total overhaul in approaches to establishing and managing cyber-security strategy.
6. Deluge of Big Data
Big Data has been huge in recent years but it’s only going to get bigger when IoT ramps up. As one source describes, “It is taking internet to another level: connecting things and making sense of the data coming in, while sending actions back out to optimize things.” With more devices connected to the Internet, companies will truly have a flood of data to access and try to use to maximize their bottom line. Companies, and especially IT shops, will have to develop and manage the infrastructure for supporting enormous volumes of structured and unstructured data that will be available through the Internet of Things.
7. Performance monitoring
In the “old days” IT shops had to spend all kinds of money on servers and other hardware and software installations to keep everything running optimally. Even then bottlenecks, maintenance, uptime, and downtime were constant concerns. Today, with cloud based 24/7 performance monitoring tools it’s possible to easily monitor your environment’s web servers, networks, platforms, operating systems, applications, databases, and other metrics to ensure that the infrastructure runs as efficiently as possible. But like everything else discussed above, Internet of Things will exert enormous impacts on application and website performance management. The enormity of volume of ‘endpoints’ available for monitoring will require IT shops to adopt new and agile approaches to ensuring that everything is running optimally and efficiently.